The Chattanooga Mocs placed five in double figures but could not hold off The Citadel in a 92-87 Southern Conference loss in McAlister Field House. The Bulldogs trio of Hayden Brown, Kaiden Rice and Fletcher Abee accounted for 74 of the 92 for the home team.
“We gave them some good looks, but they also made some tough ones,” Coach Lamont Paris shared afterwards. “We didn’t get matched up in transition. We didn’t play rules on guys based on scouting reports. It just wasn’t a good defensive performance. On the offensive side, we didn’t perform well at the very end also.
“You can’t give up almost 60 points in one half and feel like you can win the game.”
Stefan Kenić scored 19 to lead the Mocs with 17 coming in the second half. Josh Ayeni and Jamaal Walker registered new career highs with 17, while Malachi Smith and David Jean-Baptiste added 16 and 13 points, respectively.
Brown totaled a career-best 37 with 13 rebounds. Rice chipped in 21 as Abee netted 16. The threesome was 16-30 from the 3pt arc.
The Mocs had the lead at the break, but the Bulldogs started quick with a 31-18 run over the first 10 second-half minutes to go up 12, 67-55, on Brown’s jumper in the paint. Chattanooga answered with an 11-0 run with Kenić’s and-one at 8:16 closing the gap to a single point.
The Citadel rebuilt their advantage to eight, 79-71 on a three-point finish from Brown. The Mocs returned to the comeback trail from there.
Kenić drained a three to even it at 82-all with 4:26 to go. After two free throws for the Bulldogs, Smith went strong to the basket finished and drew the foul. He completed his and-one for the Mocs first lead since 37-36 at intermission.
It was 85-84 with 3:47 left. The momentum did not sustain. The Mocs managed two Walker free throws the rest of the way. Two good looks from three went awry while the hit their free throws to remain unbeaten.
Chattanooga comes home next week to host Mercer and Wofford. The Bears come to town Wednesday for a 7 p.m., tussle on ESPN+ and over the airwaves in Chattanooga via WFLI 97.7 FM and 1070 AM.